Learning from a webinar

Having written in my last post about how you can overcome the language barrier, I faced a new challenge the other day on a webinar.

I was due to run a webinar introducing a simple approach to advocacy for NGOs across Ukraine. There hadn’t had too much contact with the organiser beforehand, but I did know that there would be a translator on the webinar. I made contact with him days before and sent him my presentation slides. Then I didn’t give the webinar too much more thought.

On the day I logged onto Zoom, which I enjoy using for such webinars. It always seems to have a good connection; you can see the participants; and you can share your screen. And it is free for the first 40 minutes.

It suddenly dawned on me that this was going to be more complicated than I had first thought! Whilst I was sharing my screen to show my presentation in English that was useless for all of the participants. With hindsight I should have asked for my presentation to be translated into Ukrainian. And this should have been the presentation which was shared with the webinar not my English version. 

As time was against us, I decided as I progressed not to talk to certain slides. That decision made sense to me but confused my translator. I realised that I needed to tell him which page number I was on to make sure he was keeping up with me.

All this was in addition to having to pause after every sentence or so for the translation. So, it was a tough webinar, but amazingly there was really positive feedback at the end of it. there was also interest in thinking more about my approach and having a more detailed conversation.

I was stunned that despite these difficulties we could still communicate with each other and this webinar offered them some useful learning for their advocacy campaigns. They also asked me some great questions. I learnt a lot from this experience and will be better prepared for my next webinar with translation! I’d be interested in your ideas about how to respond to such challenges on a webinar.

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